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Tuesday, 2 July, 2002, 20:29 GMT 21:29 UK
Bobbies on the buses
London bus
Police patrols will be seen on London buses
Police officers are to begin patrolling buses to get more people using public transport in London.

In the first scheme of its kind in the country, uniformed officers will ride the most dangerous bus routes in the capital.

Mayor Ken Livingstone, who launched the new 25m transport unit on Tuesday, said it was just the start of the safety drive and he hoped to see officers on every London bus.

By next March, more than 200 officers and 280 traffic wardens will aim to cut assaults and vandalism on buses and stop illegal parking in bus lanes.

New York cops

Mr Livingstone said: "It will help provide proper policing so people can feel safe and provide authority figures that people will get reassurance from."

Working in pairs, the officers will cover 26 routes across London which account for 30% of bus crime in the capital.

The scheme, based on a New York model, has been tested on the 159 route from Brixton to Westminster and on the 109 route from Croydon to Brixton.

It produced 23 arrests for a variety of offences including robbery, bus ticket fraud and illegal minicab touting.

Nearly 800 parking tickets were issued to drivers and 22 illegally parked vehicles blocking bus lanes were towed away.

'Zero tolerance'

Ensuring a free flow of buses is key to Mr Livingstone's need to improve public transport before his controversial congestion charge is introduced.

From February next year motorists driving into central London will be charged 5.

Mr Livingstone said on Tuesday the new squad - headed by Metropolitan Police Commander Alan Shave - was the start of zero tolerance of crime on the buses.

"I have no doubt that I will be announcing the expansion of this scheme within my next budget. This will roll on and on."

The police unit will also target illegal minicab touts to combat the use of unsafe vehicles.

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 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Tom Symonds
"New patrols are made up of police officers and ticket inspectors"

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See also:

22 Jan 02 | England
08 Oct 01 | England
18 Sep 01 | UK
10 Jul 01 | UK Politics
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